2015 ITES in Review

2015 ITES in Review

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In May, on the campus of Savannah Technical College, a small group of preservationists gathered to discuss recent trends in the field of trades education.  Longtime PTN activist, Rudy Christian, led off the symposium discussing the role of non-institutional education in the teaching of the traditional trades.  Anyone who follows Rudy’s blog on Traditional Building’s website knows that he has for years passionately promoted the need for the traditional trades industry to take matters into their own hands and be proactive when it comes to teaching the trades.  

Tim Crawley, a stone carver and teacher, discussed the Arts and Crafts model for training stone and woodcarvers at the City & Guilds of London Art School.  Tim talked about how the skills associated with carving are complimented by observational drawing, modelling, and the study of history, art, architecture and ornament.  

Ken Follett took his turn and discussed the need for education to be dispersed to an existing workforce, and for the educated to be employed at their place of work.  He decried the state of the construction industry that too often focuses on the lowest bidder and is not concerned with workforce investment.   He stressed it is the responsibility of the traditional tradesperson to be vocal and visible, and to set themselves apart from their less knowledgeable competition.  

Steve Hartley focused his presentation on the public outreach programs he has developed at Savannah Technical College including the Visiting Artisan Series.  Natalie Henshaw talked about her role in HistoriCorps and how it can help develop a preservation ethic outside the choir.   Paul Kapp shared a collaboration between the University of Illinois graduate architecture program with Savannah Tech on the development of a design/build project at Fort Pulaski National Monument designed to help foster communication between future designers and future tradespeople.   Mike Kassman talked about the apprenticeship program at the International Masonry Institute and the launching of their Masonry Preservation Certificate Program.   Scott McGibbon discussed the challenges associated with the repair and maintenance of historic buildings in Scotland through two case studies.  John Moore reported on his struggles trying to keep a traditional carpentry program in Kentucky alive in a time of decreasing construction projects, reduced funding for higher education, and state focus on 4-year matriculation or placement in high wage/high demand jobs.  

Two new programs in the traditional trades were introduced.   J. Kenneth Leap informed the group of a new program at Bryn Athyn College in Runnemede, NJ that offers workshops in blacksmithing, stone carving and stained glass.  Bryan Athyn has a long and valued tradition of craft heritage.  Robert Russell introduced a new major, “Historic Preservation and the Traditional Building Arts” created out of a partnership between Salve Regina University and the IYRS School of Trades and Technology in Newport, RI.

American College of the Building Arts instructors Simeon Warren and Patrick Webb each presented at the symposium.   Simeon talked about “The Stone People Project,” that centers on Lincoln Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and a link created by 12 crosses built for Edward I to honor his wife Eleanor.  By researching cathedral records, Warren hopes to create a national and international context for discussion of the necessity of trades education in the 21st century.   Patrick focused on the value and misconceptions concerning “craft.”  The four misconceptions he identified were A. Craft is not labor, B, Art is not craft, C. No one does that anymore, and D) Industry and technology is the future of production because craft costs too much.  

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